21 September 2023

It is always fun when people come to Switzerland for the first time. The looks on their faces when they see the landscape is priceless. It also means that Julie and I get to experience some new things as well. We able to experience two new things this past weekend. We got see an Alpabfahrt or Alpabzug parade. We also rode the worlds steepest funicular train. Hopefully we will continue to have some new visitors, because it is always fun to find something to with a visitor that I have not had the chance to do.


Depending on what part of Switzerland you live this annual celebration is called alpabfahrt or alpabzug. They mean the same thing. A literal translation is simply alpine descent or alpine deduction. So coming OUT of the alps. The celebrations occur usually between the 2nd weekend of September and the 2nd weekend of October. I have to admit it seemed awfully warm last weekend to be thinking about winter. The temperature was pushing 30 degrees and we were baking while we were waiting for the cows to march by. I really felt sorry for some of the children leading the cows, goats, and sheep. Many were walking barefoot, and the heat from the road had to be torture on their feet. I don’t know for how long the animals and the people were walking, but it was a long way. As we left the town of Urnäsch we passed one of the groups and they were walking to the village of Waldstatt 4 miles away!

In the Appenzeller region, each group consists of a small group of goats, followed by 3 or 4 herdsmen dressed in native outfits. Immediately behind the herdsmen are the three “bell cows. These are three boss cows of the herd. The bells the cows wear are harmonized to each other. The four herdsmen will either sing, or yodel to the tones of the bell whenever they come near people. After the cows pass, the owners of the herd walk. They are identified by always wearing brown. The last part of the parade is a wagon that contains all of the apparatus needed for making cheese and butter on the mountains.

In other regions of the country the parade is similar but the tradition of the bell cows is different. The cows will still wear a bell (just like almost every cow in Switzerland), but the cow will wear a headdress of flowers. Some of these get very ornate. The bells also are not nearly as large as the ones found in Appenzell.

In the spring this tradition is reversed. There is a big party because winter is over as the cows go back up to the mountains. The first half of the video below is of one of the parades we saw. The second part of the video was for the second new thing we did last weekend.


Stoos pronounced more like close in “Please close the door.” is a town located in the canton of Schwyz. The town is located 1/2 way up a mountain. There are two peaks on the mountain. Fronalpstock is the peak we visited. At the top of the mountain you look over LuzernSee (Lake Luzern, Mt RIgi, Mt Pilatus, and the city of Luzern. The other peak is named Klingenstock. One of the most famous hikes in Switzerland is between these two peaks. It is called the ridge hike, it of course goes along the ridge of the mountain where one side overlooks the ski area and the other side is pretty much a cliff about 1800 meters down. I have already told my children that if they come visit this spring we are taking that hike. They may have to leave me on the side of the mountain, but that hike looks absolutely amazing!!!!!

I do not know what the population is of Stoos. I am guessing a couple of hundred permanent residents. However, I think it would a great place for a ski vacation. It is one of the only places I have seen, here, that you can actually ski from your house to a chair lift!

Besides the views at the top, the main attraction is the ride up the mountain. You start at the bottom and board the strangest looking train you will ever see. It looks like four giant barrels pushing a half barrel. The train was built in 2017. It is a funicular training meaning it works similar to a giant gondola. There are two trains, and they are always at opposite ends from each other. The trains run on one track separated into two right in the middle, so they can pass. There is a giant cable that actually pulls the train up and lowers the train down the hill.

This is the steepest funicular in the world. At the steepest the gradient is 47 degrees, but you never realize how steep it is because the train levels the cars automatically. The train can take 1500 passengers per hour. It takes about 5 minutes to make the trip. The train climbs about 750 meters. The ride is almost 2 kilometers long. Two more tidbits of useless information. The gift shop and lodge are heated with the waste heat from the engine room of train. The hot water in the lodge is heated by capturing the braking energy of the train! Julie and I have been able to ride quite a few funiculars while here, but this was by far the most unique.

We got some good pictures of our travels last week. Another side trip we took was the the Abby Library at St Gallen. I have talked about this place many times as it is one my favorite places to visit in Switzerland. They have really opened up the rules on taking pictures. So we have quite a few pictures from the library this week. The pictures below are a panoramic picture of the ceiling, and a panoramic view of one side of the library. It amazes me each and every time I see it!

Next week there will not be a post as we are heading to Munich for Oktoberfest. I figure I will be in no condition to post while we are there, but hopefully on Monday or Tuesday my head will have cleared enough to write coherently!

Talk to you soon, enjoy the pictures.

14 September

Well I am the tail end of 48 hours with out guests for a couple of weeks. This morning, I am cleaning the house, washing clothes, and writing this before I have class this afternoon. Having guests is good. We did get another example of exactly how bad air travel is again.

My Sister and Brother in Law were originally going to be staying for three days. The airlines cost them a day, though. They got to their first airport and their flight was cancelled. (You will find out, that this makes no sense in a few sentences.) Of COURSE the cancellation was due to weather, so there was no compensation for the delay. They were forced to get a hotel in the evening, because they were rebooked for something like 5 or 6 AM the next day. They asked for their luggage back, but they were told since it had been checked it could not be retrieved. So far this makes sense. They got on the early flight the next morning, and had an 11 or 12 hour layover at the next airport before making the flight across the Atlantic.

They made it into Zurich, but this is where it gets confusing. Scot, my Brother in Law, couldn’t find his luggage on the carousel. So he gets in line to file the missing luggage report, but as the queue was moving he noticed his suitcase in an area for luggage that came in the day before. So my question for the airline is…… If there were no other flights between Indianapolis and Philadelphia (which is what they were told), how did the one suitcase make it Zurich the day before the passenger? Oh well, we still were able to have a quick visit, before they boarded a train to Italy, but I am kind of angry that we lost a day of visiting.

We didn’t have much planned for Monday. After a shower, and a couple cups of coffee we boarded a train for downtown. They got to see a little of Zurich, before they crashed Monday night. Tuesday morning, we got up early and drove to a nearby mountain town called Engelberg. It was kind of funny as we were driving there Scot told me had been there before about 35 years ago. He said the mountains looked the same, but the town seemed a lot different.

I was very happy, because this was the first time I had the perfect combination to walk over the suspension bridge at the top of the mountain. I have only take the bridge one other time. Most people see the bridge and say NOPE! My daughter walked the bridge with me, but it was cloudy so we couldn’t see anything. This week the weather was perfect.

I was shocked by the amount of construction going on. I did learn that building on a mountain is kind of hard. In fact you even have to bring your cement plant up on the mountain with you.

The nice thing is that you do not have to go very far to find the stone that you need for the concrete.

I was a little shocked at some of the building practices, however. There is a glacier up on the top of the mountain, and just like glaciers everywhere it is melting incredibly fast. The top of the glacier on Mt Titles is even covered with a blanket to try and minimize the melting. The construction, though, is making the glacier degrade much faster than it would otherwise. In one way it probably makes sense. It just doesn’t matter. There is nothing that can be done to stop the glacier from melting. The steps the government is taking simply delays the inevitable. If something really needs to be built, protecting the glacier that will disappear anyway probably does not make a lot of sense.

After we visited the mountain we made a stop by Luzern. I figured my sister needed to get a taste of Switzerland even though she had only 48 hours. So we hit the mountains, and got some pictures by arguably the second most famous place in Switzerland die Kapellbrücke (The Chapel Bridge) in Luzern. I realized that I am a really bad tourist. I was looking for a picture of the bridge, and I only have one that was not even of the whole bridge just of the tower in the middle. Oh well, I am sure I will be in Luzern at least one more time before we move back to the US! :). I would post a picture that someone else has taken, but I got burned once by posting a picture that I thought had a free copyright. I don’t want to make that mistake again. So here is a link to a Google image search Link

Our next visitor arrives in about 18 hours. It is my wife’s oldest friend. On Saturday we are going to do something we have wanted to do since moving here. We are going to one of the mountain villages for the Alpabfahrt or if we were in the french speaking part of Switzerland; Désalpe. This is the celebration that takes place at the end of every summer when the cows come down off of the mountain pastures. So I should have some more pictures and video for my next post.

I have some pictures, but I am waiting for permission from my sister to put up some of the pictures with her in them. :). So enjoy the ones for now, I will update the gallery once I get her permission.

23 August 2023

Well the first week of school is coming to a close. I honestly do not know how my son got through Law School. Sure some of the cases are interesting reading, but lawyers talk like they have a huge stick up their bum. I mean they can’t say anything plainly. `There is no doubt that the gravamen of the deception claims is that DLS misled consumers about the data safety and security features of its products.” They could simply say “The main part of the case is that DLS lied about the safety and security features of its products.” I mean isn’t the second quote a lot more clear? 🙂

One of my professors said he recommends reading the passages two times. The first time just read it through, and then the second time read it for the meaning. I find myself going back three and four times. The second time I read something it is with an online dictionary opened up on another screen. The third time is taking notes, and then I find myself reading it a fourth time, and maybe actually understanding about 2/3’s of what I read. When I was taking the computer science classes, I found I only needed to read that stuff twice before I understood it. Why do Lawyers make this so difficult?

One of my classes has two oral exams. I am not sure how I feel about this one. The only oral exam I ever remember taking was the language one I had to take here to show the Swiss Government that I could converse like a toddler in German! IU did announce a new course that I am thinking about taking this semester. It is called Space Cybersecurity.

The description of the course sounds fascinating. This is an excerpt from the marketing page to sign up for the course;”

There is a particular need for more professionals with training in space-cybersecurity, given the reliance on space-based infrastructure for everything from weather forecasting and satellite telecommunications to broadband Internet. The reliance and growing ubiquity of space to cybersecurity, the Internet, and data governance is raising a host of questions surrounding how best to protect vulnerable space-based critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.Since Russia’s cyberattacks on space-based services provided by commercial US space companies as part of the war in Ukraine, cybersecurity of space systems is high on the agenda, spurring discussions at the White House and in Congress, and a US $700 million budget request by the Space Force for this purpose alone. At the same time, a fast-growing market has emerged, with demand for professionals and firms.”

For all my nerd friends that might read my blog here is a link to sign up for the class: Space Cybersecurity. The class meets for 11 weeks at 5 pm Eastern Time. I think I can actually do this one. It means I will get to bed about 12:30 one night a week, but I think I can handle that. I mean if I have trouble, I will just get Julie off the train, and then come back and go to bed!


The term Badenfahrt was actually coined in the middle ages. The term translates as “ride to Baden.” Baden was famous for the healing waters. For my Southern Indiana readers, Baden is the French Lick/Springs Valley of Switzerland. People used to come from all over for the thermal baths. During and immediately after the reformation Badenfahrt was a way to let your hair down, and go somewhere that you could actually have fun because Baden stayed Catholic, so things were not as repressed as the areas that went protestant. 🙂 This year marks the 100th anniversary of the modern Badenfahrt. The celebration takes place every 10 years, but every fifth year is the Klein Badenfahrt. I guess they figure 10 years is a long wait so every five years you get a smaller party,

For the two weeks of Badenfahrt the town basically becomes a HUGE bar and outdoor music festival. The bars all have different themes. Pictured below is the Wäschmachine Bar.

Inside the bars are some smaller music venues, each bar specializes in the type of music they offer. There was even a country/western and blues bar; so we North Americans could feel like home!

I am trying to convince Julie we need to go one evening this week. The weekend was great, but with the temperatures approaching 95 degrees it was REALLY HOT to be standing around listening to music and fighting the crowds. We loved the parade, though, and most of my pictures are from the parade.

Having festivals separated by years seems to be a Swiss thing. We have missed Züri Fäscht, twice. Which is another big festival that happens periodically. Züri Fäscht is every three years. We missed the first year, because I wasn’t here, yet. We were out of town for this years party. Mom and Dad is it OK if I stay in Switzerland another four years so I can go to Züri Fäscht next time? Just thought I would ask!

Every Badenfahrt is themed. This years theme was NEO- Bridging the gap between history and the future. It does seem an apt theme for a 100 year celebration! The festival is planned by a local committee, but all of the bars, and everything to run the festival is done by local clubs and civic organizations. These groups, of course, use this as a major fundraiser. Considering that over a million people will visit this town of 20,000 over two weekends it probably raises quite a lot of money.

As usual, Enjoy the pictures!!
Until next week.

19 August 2023

Well, school started this week. So it is back to studying for me. The thing that intrigued me the most about the Masters Program I am in, was the fact that I was able to take classes through three different schools at Indiana University (IU). The program is basically 1/3 from the Business School, 1/3 from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, and 1/3 from the Law School. I found it interesting the three schools could work together, and so far the most surprising thing to me is…. The school that is highest ranked at IU (The Business School) is the worst in regards to hosting online classes. The Professors have been really good, but they make it harder than the other schools to attend online. When the Business School offers an online class, a lot of the time it means you still have to attend the class at the time it is being taught. Now if I lived in Indiana, probably not a big deal, but living over here that means I have to be up at 2 or 3 in the morning for class. If I were 22 again, that might not be a big deal, but at age 58 that takes a toll on me. I was really looking forward to a class through the Business School this semester. You work on a team and with an actual client and present a Cyber Security Plan for them. I am having to drop the class though.

The first reason is because of the mandatory lectures. 1/3 of the grade is “class participation” which means I have no choice but to be up at 2 AM for class. The biggest reason, though, is that all of the deliverables are due on Thanksgiving Day. If I were just staying in Switzerland, not a big deal. Heck, there isn’t even a Thanksgiving Day here. My problem is that I will be traveling to the US the week before Thanksgiving, and will be traveling between Wisconsin and Indiana the days surrounding Thanksgiving. It wouldn’t be fair to the team I would be working with if I were unavailable when the last push to get everything done is on. So I am down to two classes.

That doesn’t worry me. I am still able to finish on time. My son, though will probably be getting a lot of emails. The two classes I am taking are through the Law School. One is a class on Privacy Laws, and the other is a class on general CyberSecurity Law. I figure my lawyer son, can be my editor for all the writing I have to do!

We are also gearing up for another stretch with a lot of visitors. I have a sister coming over early in September for a few days, then one of my wife’s best friends is swinging by after a business trip to Germany. Then we have parents coming. Julie’s Dad comes the last part of September, and my parents come early October. This is kind of what we thought it would be like with visitors. Covid, of course put a stop to that, but hopefully next year will be just as busy.

We have a trip to Munich scheduled the last weekend in September. We have wanted to visit for Oktoberfest and this year we are going for a long weekend with another couple. We are excited we got our dirndl and lederhosen all ready. I’ve been looking for a Bavarian Style hat to complete my ensemble, but so far have not found any I really like!

Castles vs Palaces

Growing up in Southern Indiana, I always thought of castles and palaces as the same. Even after my first trip to Europe I really did not understand the difference. We saw some palaces while we were visiting, but I still thought of them as the same. It wasn’t until I moved to Switzerland that I truly understood the difference. In a nutshell, palaces were the houses of the rulers, castles were what the rulers used for defence. The ruler might live in the castle, but more likely, they had a palace somewhere else, and only stayed in the castle if they were under attack.

The best example I think of in the US: Biltmore Estate is a palace. The Alamo in Texas is a castle. Of course the Alamo was originally a mission, but it was built for defence, and there was some kind of governmental functions that ran from there. I think that is a problem with “American” English. We use those terms interchangeably, whereas the rest of the world does not. In fact if you were to do a google search for castles in the the US. You will get a list of huge homes, none of which were ever fortified other than for appearance. The Alamo was truly the closest I could come up with. Though in the US maybe a castle would be called a fort? Or maybe the US CANNOT HAVE a castle because there was never a nobility class there? I truly don’t know, and will confuse myself the more I talk about it so…..

Just like the US really doesn’t have any castles, Switzerland doesn’t have any palaces. Back in the days the palaces were being built the separate areas of Switzerland were never big or prosperous enough for the ruler to build a palace. There are a couple of buildings that are called palaces here, but they were never the seat of the ruler. There are however, many castles. Julie and I visited Schloss (Castle) Kyburg last weekend.

The “cow castle” was first seen in history in 1079. The House of Kyburg was second in importance only to the Hapsburgs in this part of Switzerland. In fact, when the last Count of Kyburg died in 1264 the Hapsburgs took control of the castle. About 200 years later the CityState of Zurich bought the castle. For roughly the next 370 years the Bailiff of Zurich lived in the estate.

The bailiffs were administrators over particular territories. Zurich, back then was the largest CityState in Switzerland. Zurich had multiple Bailiffs that controlled the countryside. Kyburg was arguably the most important of these. The Bailiff was an appointed position. The appointment lasted for six years. The bailiffs were of course the “elite” of society. The bailiff had to have enough financial backing to run the household in the castle, but also had to keep the business, and household running in the city. Of course it was very lucrative to be a bailiff.

The castle set empty for about 60 years when it was purchased by a wealthy merchant. He refurbished what he could and turned it into a tourist attraction and art museum. Schloss Kyburg became the first castle museum in Switzerland. The castle has remained a museum ever since.

This weekend we are also taking it easy. I think Julie wants to go shopping downtown and spend some gift certificates, and then Sunday we are heading to the city of Baden for Badenfahrt. Badenfahrt dates back to the middle ages. It was originally a religious festival, but over time it became a secular activity. The festival is only held every 10 years; so the city really makes it special. The city of Baden has about 20,000 residents, but will have over a million visitors during the two weeks of the festival. Hopefully it will be a good time!

Enjoy the pictures from the castle!

1 August 2023

Happy Swiss Day to everyone!

1 August in Switzerland is like 4 July in the USA. This is not an independence day it is a confederation day. Not being Swiss, the strange thing to me, is that it isn’t even a celebration of the country forming. Instead 1 August, 1291 is the day the three original signers to the confederation signed a paper pledging to protect each other if one of them was ever attacked. About 60 years later the confederation had increased to eight cantons. The “country” remained that size for approximately 90 years when Zurich was kicked out of the confederation over a territory dispute. Zurich was out for only about 10 years and then it rejoined. This was the start of a very successful time in Swiss history. The confederated states gained a lot of respect in Europe by providing mercenaries on the continent, and it was in 1506 that the Pope hired mercenaries that have continuously served as the Pope’s security force commonly called the “Swiss Guard.”

For about the next 200 years there was a lot of stability in Switzerland. There was also more peace than war because the rest of Europe relied on swiss mercenaries. In the late 1700 to early 1800’s the country was ruled by the French. Napoleon restored much of the self rule and the final three cantons joined the confederation in 1814. By the end of 1815 Switzerland’s borders were set, and the rest of the world recognized Switzerland as a neutral country. Switzerland adopted it’s first Federal Constitution in 1848.

So happy Confederation Day! I now have the pleasure of not getting any sleep because the fireworks in our neighborhood started at 7:15 this morning, and will probably go all night long. Thank goodness it is raining all day, that will keep some of the noise down,

There is a short history lesson of Switzerland, now I will go back to talking about the last part of our holiday!


Julie and I have been to Munich before, but we really like the town. So when our friends were looking for someplace in Germany to visit it was at the top of our list. It also didn’t hurt that Munich is very close to Salzburg. We lost most of a day taking the train from the Alps to Salzburg, so we didn’t want to lose another by traveling to Northern Germany.

Our first morning in Munich we signed up for a walking tour of the old town. I don’t often do recommendations, BUT if you are ever in Munich you need to look into Dark History Tours. We signed up for a 3.5 hour tour, but I think everyone in our group agreed we wish we had more time. Our tour guide was fabulous. He took us through the history of Munich, but his specialty is the rise of the Third Reich. Munich was the home of the Nazi party and Taff gave us a history lesson that we will all remember.

After the tour we got on a train and rode to Dachau. So we learned about the rise of the Nazi party in the morning, and then the afternoon we got a lesson in how awful the Nazi Party was.

Dachau was the first concentration camp. It was opened in 1933, and was the blueprint for all of the other camps. There were even about 100 satellite camps in the surrounding area. The prison camp itself was only about 5 acres, but the entire facility was over 20. The other land was used for training of prison guards and other SS soldiers. For the first five years, the camp was used for german citizens. If someone spoke out against the party or programs they were sent there. In 1938 over 10,000 Jewish men were sent to Dachau. All told over 200,000 prisoners were held at Dachau. I remember reading one of the signs that at the peak of the imprisonments there over 67,000 people being held in the camp. The following is a quote from one of the speeches the day the camp was opened;

“Comrades of the SS!
You all know what the Fuehrer has called us to do. We have not come here for human encounters with those pigs in there. We do not consider them human beings, as we are, but as second-class people. For years they have been able to continue their criminal existence. But now we are in power. If those pigs had come to power, they would have cut off all our heads. Therefore we have no room for sentimentalism. If anyone here cannot bear to see the blood of comrades, he does not belong and had better leave. The more of these pig dogs we strike down, the fewer we need to feed.”

I truly do not have the words to describe the feelings I had walking through the camp and learning about the hatred and inhuman crimes that were perpetrated on the people in those camps. I am not sure I ever will.

I think what depressed me the most is thinking back to some of the parallels I hear from US politicians and citizens when they talk about the other side being evil. That was the way it started in Germany as well. When you truly think of your political opponent as evil. It can become very easy to set up a place to “re-educate” them.

Enough depression!

We ended our first full day in Munich on a high note. Had a great dinner. and then sat on the Marienplatz for drinks to end the day. It almost felt like we were on one of our camping holidays sitting around a campfire at the end of the night!

On Sunday, Julie and I had to head back to Zurich; so she could go to work; so in the morning we toured one of the most impressive palaces we have visited in Europe. The Residenz is one of the great palaces in Europe. It was home of the Bavarian Kings and Prince-Electors. There are over 130 rooms in the tour, and many of them are simply amazing! This was my second time touring the palace, and I enjoyed it as much the second time. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the palace this time; so you will have to visit my last Munich post to see what the palace looked like.

The worst part was having to say goodbye to our friends. I will see two of them in November when I head back to the US for deer hunting, but we are planning on meeting in Southern Indiana next April to witness the eclipse that will be crossing North America!

Not nearly as many pictures this time, but enjoy the ones I have.

27 Juli 2023

The highlight of my summer ended two weeks ago. We had two couples that we have been friends with since the 80’s come visit. We took them to see one of our favorite places in Switzerland, Salzburg, and then Munich. I truly hope they enjoyed the trip as much as Julie and I. It was especially fun, because we saved some of our bucket list experiences to be with them.

Like all good vacations this one had a little drama. It started with delayed flights that cost a day of sightseeing in Switzerland. We got thrown out of a restaurant in Lauterbrunnen. We got kicked off a train in Germany! However, we made it through all of that, and had an amazing week.

In Switzerland we went to the Lauterbrunnen valley. In my opnion, this is for sure in the top three most beautiful places in Switzerland. We stayed in a little town named Murren. Murren is a small village with only 450 residents, but it has over 3000 beds for tourists. Murren is one of the towns in Switzerland that does not allow cars. This is not technically true, because some of the residents have cars, but there is no easy road up to the town. To get there you take a train to the village of Lauterbrunnen, take a gondola 1/2 way up the mountain, then a train across the mountain into the town. The train was built in 1891, and when you board the train it looks like the original train car is still in service. We spent three days hiking and enjoying the alps before heading off to our next stop.

I do have to talk about our trouble in Lauterbrunnen. I promised our friends that we would have a fondue picnic while in the alps. So we went down into the valley to hike, and visit some of the waterfalls. When it started to get close to noon, we decided to stop and have our fondue. There was a restaurant in the area, that had a huge outdoor seating area. The restaurant was not open yet, so everyone thought we should just go sit at one of the tables, like dozens of other people were doing. I tried to convince them otherwise because I knew the place would open up before we were done eating. I was outvoted, so we set up….. Needless to say, before the cheese had melted we got chased away. The fondue was excellent, though!

Salzburg was one of the cities that Julie and I have wanted to visit since we first moved. I think it had more to do with the Sound of Music than anything else, but Salzberg was a fascinating town. We stayed in an old monastery that had been converted into a hotel.

Salzburg has been inhabited since the stone age. It got the name as being one of the primary salt distribution sites in Europe. There is, or was, a large salt mine in the area, and the Salzach River made a perfect way to help distribute the salt. The Salzach is a tributary to the Inn river (think Innsbruck) which in turn flows into the Danube. Salzburg has a very deep and rich religious history for many hundreds of years, the rulers were Prince-Bishops. Each one felt the need to build a new church and add on to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. This was the most impressive castle/fort I have visited. It is not a Palace by any means. It was built purely as a defensive fortification to protect the ruler. One of the interesting things I read is that it was never defeated. Though that is a little bit of a mis-statement. When Napoleon came to the area the fortress gave up with out a fight because the ruler realized that military innovations made the fortress obsolete. It was still a fascinating place to tour, and offered the best views of the city.

One of the biggest disappointments I have had traveling was in Salzburg. We all wanted to take a Sound of Music Tour. We had visions of dancing in the gazebo and running through the fields singing just like the movie. I am old enough to know NOT to have these preconceived ideas, but I had them anyway. Our tour guide was excellent, and we loved learning some of the trivia from the movie. Things like Christopher Plummer did NONE of the singing. He was also a bit of an ASS. Apparently, he did not like the little girl that played Gretl. She was so young, that she kept getting fed to keep her quiet on the set; so she gained a lot of weight. During the final scene when the Captain is carrying her over the mountains it was a stand in, because Plummer could not pick her up! We also learned that just like any movie BASED on a true story there is more fiction than fact. It turns out that the Captain was NOT being recruited by the German Navy after all. He was old! The family had already been touring Europe as a singing group for a few years. They left because Hitler wanted them to perform, and the Captain hated Hitler so much (kudos by the way) he decided the family should leave rather than perform for Hitler. Also, they left by train not hiking through the mountains. Which does make a lot more sense, because going through the mountains would have taken them into Germany, not Switzerland. 🙂

The tour was also disappointing because the only movie scenes we saw were 1) the church from the wedding 2) the garden from the do re mi song, and the lake where the boat tips over. We did see some of the sites from a LOOOOONG way off. but that was it. We are still not convinced we actually saw the gazebo. It too has been moved because the crowds were to much for the site. They moved the gazebo a few miles outside the city, and of course it is locked up, because some idiot tried to do the dance scene and couldn’t jump from bench to bench and got hurt. Honestly, the gazebo just looks like something you would buy at any home garden store!

The picture above is an example of what I mean. This was taken with the strongest zoom my iphone would capture! We were 3/4 of a mile away, and we simply drove by. The same thing happened in the field where Maria sang. We drove by the field, and the guide said ” and this is the field where Maria sang.” The problem is that all of the sites are privately owned, and so many tourists want to visit that the owners have cut off access. The picture below was our group at the lake where the boat scene was filmed. Way off in the distance, you can see the hotel where all the balcony scenes were filmed.

So my recommendation to you is that if you ever go to Salzburg skip the Sound of Music Tour. It is simply not worth it. Salzburg is an amazing small city on it’s own and is worth a visit! Our biggest adventure happened as we were trying to go from Salzburg to Munich.

Julie and I have traveled by train enough to know that while trains work great in Switzerland; sometimes they leave a lot to be desired in other countries. I convinced myself that we did not need to get a seat reservation for the trip to Munich. Even if the train was crowded it was only a 45 minute trip so we could stand if need be. This was A HUGE mistake on my part. We got our tickets just fine. It turned out the train was only 4 cars long. We got on the first car, and there were no available seats; so we went to car number 2. We found seats that were marked as reserved, but 2 minutes before the train was due to depart no one was there; so we went ahead and sat down. Of course for some reason the train was delayed and after 25 minutes the people that had the reservation showed up; so we were forced to stand. The train was delayed even more when one of the cars had to be emptied because the air conditioning was not working. This of course caused everyone on that car to try and pack in the remaining cars. The conductor made an announcement that if you were standing you needed to get off the train. Again, this has been a pretty common occurrence so we stayed in the car. Eventually it took off; so we thought we were good to go. We only rode about 15 minutes before the train stopped at a station in the middle of nowhere, and two police officers get on. The officers tell us that everyone standing has to get off, and there will be another train along soon.

I asked the officers and the conductor if the next train would have seats, but of course they did not know. I went into the office and asked what time time train would be coming, the number, etc… I was told it would come by in an hour, but this person also did not know if there would be a seat. So we waited. A train came finally, but the sign said it was going somewhere away from Munich. I talked to a German Soldier who was also trying to get back to Munich, and he called the station from the train and verified it was going to Munich. I will say the train company did this right. They diverted a train that was not in service to pick up all the people stranded, and they sent a train that was big enough for everyone to get on. So eventually we made it Munich!

My post is getting a little long so I am going to end it now, and will talk about Munich in my next post. I hope you enjoy the pictures.